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Describe the disadvantages faced by the Catholics in Northern Ireland in the mid-1960s.

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Introduction

Describe the disadvantages faced by the Catholics in Northern Ireland in the mid-1960s. In 1921, Ireland was split up into two countries under the 'Government of Ireland Act'. The six northeastern Ulster counties, namely Fermanagh, Londonderry, Antrim, Down, Armagh and Tyrone all joined as one and became Northern Ireland which would stay part of The United Kingdom and loyal to the crown, whereas the rest of Ireland would become an independent country under the name, 'The Republic of Ireland'. Northern Ireland was then and still is today a protestant majority making up about 60% of the population and Catholics the minority being only about 40%. Northern Ireland was created on the basis that the overwhelming majority of people in the North were protestant and wanted to stay part of The United Kingdom because they felt that their lives would be threatened if they lived in a unified independent Ireland under a Catholic government and being a small minority. One of the biggest disadvantages faced by a catholic living in the mid-60s Northern Ireland was the unfair elections. Protestants would always win the big elections because Protestant businessmen were allowed to cast extra votes on top of their first vote. Many of the poor Catholics were not allowed to vote altogether along with many catholic sub-tenants, lodgers and over 21 are living at home. This was so unfair because by having extra votes for Protestants it would mean that they would vote for the unionists and the nationalists would never win. What did not help the Catholic's democratic rights was living under a Protestant majority government in Stormont. It would mean that Catholics would have hardly any rights because Stormont would always take sides with the Protestants by letting them have better housing, better employment and treating the Catholics like second class citizens where they received the lowest of nearly everything and spending only a small amount of them. ...read more.

Middle

All of this unfair treatment was a major disadvantage to the Catholics because low paid jobs meant a low standard of living. In 1963, the prime minister of Northern Ireland Lord Brookborough resigned and was replaced by Captain Terence O'Neill. Captain O'Neill hoped to win Catholic support and to improve civil rights. He also hoped to achieve a better standard of living for the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. He opened new factories but most of the new industries and investment, which O'Neill brought to Northern Ireland, ended up in the unionist strongholds of the North and East of the province. Of the 111 new factories built in Northern Ireland in the post war period to the mid 60s, only 16 were built in counties Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh- counties with nationalist majorities or populations, which were finely balanced between the nationalist and unionist communities. Rev Ian Paisley influenced politics in Northern Ireland a great deal. Nationalists and some Unionists regarded him as a man who wasn't afraid to speak his mind and were indeed very biased but most Unionists regarded him as a skilled politician. The UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) regarded themselves as the 'protectors' of Protestants. In 1966 the IRA and indeed many Catholics celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the 'Easter Rising'. The IRA made it aware that the men in 1916 were fighting for a 'United Ireland' and they were still prepared to fight for the same cause. This worried many Protestants but they felt some comfort knowing that the UVF were on their side and would try to defend them. The voting system was also not very fair. You could only vote if you owned a house. This was alright for Protestants because they all owned houses but was unfair for the average Catholic who was unemployed and couldn't get a house so therefore no vote. In Northern Ireland Unionists dominated politics. ...read more.

Conclusion

The police claim that they were trying to remove the barrier to get into a better position to split up the mobs. The Catholics claim that this was a direct attack by the police, aided by Loyalist thugs, on Catholic homes. "To our amazement, the police were accompanied by a large number of loyalist militants, who started breaking windows in the houses along Rossville Street." From: The Road to Bloody Sunday by Raymond MacLean. The Battle of the Bogside lasted for two days and the police were unable to enter the area. The first of Northern Irelands 'no-go' areas had been created. The Republic wanted to intervene. The Irish Taoiseach Jack Lynch sent Irish army ambulances to the border (just a few kilometers away). He also accused the RUC of being biased and not an impartial (unbiased) force. The RUC came across badly in some reports of the events. The RUC no longer had confidence of the Roman Catholic population. The media pressure forced the government to act. Only the army was seen to have the ability to be neutral and to restore law and order, which had deteriorated rapidly. Lynch intended to intervene by calling for a United Nations peacekeeping force to be sent in. This increased Unionist fears of Ireland becoming a 'United Ireland' and they thought that Northern Ireland was facing a Republican plot sponsored by the government of the Republic. The British government had no choice but to react so they sent in British troops in 1969. The initial reaction to the troops was a happiness and gladness from the Catholics. They made the troops tea and sandwiches. However, this was all to change. When Britain gave the control of the troops over to the Stormont government they used the troops to help them win power in Northern Ireland. Instead of protecting Catholics, they were ordered to go against them. The Catholics now changed their ways and also went against the troops. The troops invaded Catholic houses and shot many innocent Catholics. All of this lead contributed to the increase of support for the IRA. ...read more.

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